Top Chef - Jan 14 (open spoilers)

To be honest, I was rather unimpressed with this entire episode.

Quickfire - make something out of canned/packaged pantry items in 15 minutes

Honor the Protein at the Farm and serve the farm families

First off, the split the teams up by protein type seemed off. Chicken, Pork, Lamb - I’m shocked - the Chicken team won :rolleyes: even though they didn’t hit a home run either.

Sad cooking episode where the choice results was fried green tomatoes.

So farewell to the Cougar, Ariane. While she wasn’t going to win, I think her skills were better than some of the ones still remaining.

One thing though, and you had to look fast.

Everyones dishes looked really pretty. Not so much the still shoots where they talk about each plate. But, if you looked carefully at the dishes as they were plating them, sending them out, and then passing them around the eating table, they looked pretty impressive to me.

I also thought sending Ariane home a bit off too. So, her butchery skills werent so hot, but the other girl did virtually nothing and apparently the little she did wasnt impressive, and the team leader didnt step up and help her do it right. The judges even though there was a bit o the throw her to wolves/sabatoge going on there.

I am still the lady that reminds me of Big Bird on too much coffee is still there. If she could quite going off the deep end once in awhile and quit being brow beat by others she could do a lot better.

I am no real fan of the new judge, but he does seem to be taking the job more seriously and actually has useful positive comments.

The new judge might kill the show for me. His shtick was tired about twenty seconds into his first appearance, and this episode did nothing to warm me to him. One thing I liked about this show was that there really was no “Simon Cowell” aside from when Anthony Bourdain and his douchey earring were guest-judging.

I liked Ariane. I really thought she was going to make it to the final three. I’m not sure that I particularly like any of the remaining chefs. I’m certainly not interested in Hosea and that other girl’s tryst or whatever next week.

*Edit: Forgot to add, I agree completey with Billfish. The dishes looked gorgeous.

I thought Hung looked a little miffed that the challenge he got to judge was made with stuff he would probably cringe at the thought of touching.

The British judge irritates me when he tries to drop one-liners, but I think his judgment and constructive comments are sound. I do like that he is pushing the other judges a little bit. They have all been around long enough that they tend to all think the same, and tend to fall in line with each other. Toby seems to have made them more willing to be vocal about what they like/dislike.

I’m undecided about how I feel about Ariane going. While she certainly knew how to make good tasting food, I don’t think she was up to par to win the competition. She had some pretty massive gaps in her bag of tricks (she was willing to learn, but still), and seemed to be lacking a little bit of the refinement that other chefs had. If I didn’t find her attitude/personality a little grating, I’d say she’d be better suited to Next Food Network Star than Top Chef.

The previews for next week make me pretty certain I’m going to have to change the channel at some point. I don’t want to hear about Hosea and Leah, and I certainly don’t want to watch them cuddle. If I wanted to see that, then I’d watch some crappy VH1 or MTV reality show. I tune into Top Chef to watch cooking, dish creation, and how they deal with challenges. I also find it a little distasteful that they are making it look like Hosea and Leah are cheating/almost cheating on their significant others. While this may or may not have occurred, I don’t think it’s the show’s deal to show the entire country the mess they are making.

On the other hand, it is Restaurant Wars, so presuming that they don’t keep coming back to Leah and Hosea, I’ll be watching.

I’m a little sad that Ariane is gone. I thought she had a good chance at the final three. I was surprised that she didn’t know how to tie up a lamb roast though. I used to like Leah but judging from the editing, it did appear that she threw Ariane under the bus.

Crazy Carla is still hanging in there and is there any doubt that she is the strongest in making desserts compared to the other chefs? You would think that after a creme brule has bombed yet again the chefs would get a clue and just maybe consider making something else.

Stephan is a huge arrogant ass but he is a good chef and has to be considered the front runner.
Jamie is talented but I wish I would see more from her other than scallops and soup.

I still don’t know what to think about Jeff, even though his fried green tomatoes were well received, overall he just doesn’t impress me with his cooking.

Radika seems to be slipping lately and has yet to cook anything good without some Indian influence. She may have done something non- Indian once for a quickfire challenge but I’m not sure.

I wonder what Hosea and Leah’s SO’s think of all the lovey-dovey going on, especially from looking at next weeks preview. My guess is that they are no longer their SO’s.

It’s hard to predict who will be packing their knives next week until I know who is on which team but if Radika, Leah or Jeff is on the losing team, one will be packing their knives.
Carla will be safe next week because whichever team she is on, she will be chosen to do the dessert.

Restaurant wars next week!

I’m probably wrong here, but because they ARE showing this blossoming relationship, it makes me think that they’re just upping the drama quotient so they can cut one of 'em.

This is definitely a weird season. It keeps moving in lurches and loops, compared to previous years.

I was extremely excited, when I realized where they were headed (one of the most important farm-restaurant operations in the country, if not the world), and wanted to see the chefs really get in touch with their food, at the source. I was extraordinarily disappointed to see that they were not expected to kill their animals; it would have made an enormous difference, I think, in how seriously they took the challenge of “respecting” the food, if they were expected to take the animals’ lives themselves. It was a horrible, horrible waste, what they did with some of the best ingredients they have ever had the opportunity to use (and probably ever will, in their whole careers). It was a privilege for them to cook with that stuff, and they blew it, treating most of it like they got it from the case at Whole Foods, as usual. Going from living animal to dead animal, under their own blades, might have forced them to make the transition they clearly failed to make. Pissed me off. Yes, it would have triggered some strong reactions in the viewing audience, and possibly some hate mail, to watch these reality-show mopes cutting the throats of cute little lambs, but for fuck’s sake, they’re cooking and eating meat, and tasteful handling could have gone a long way to expose our hypocritical squeamishness on the topic, and educated people about responsibility toward our food sources.

Sorry, this is a bit of a sensitive subject for me. Bottom line, the show had a real opportunity here, and basically blew it.

And yeah, that snarky bitch Leah should have been sent packing. She’s doing the old “hide in the middle of the pack until later” thing, and Colicchio is usually better at catching people out on that, and punishing them appropriately. Ariane sure ain’t the best cook there, but she’s got way more heart than almost anybody. Her lack of technical refinement guaranteed that she was never going to win, but nevertheless I think I’d rather eat her food than any of the other competitors, and she should have lasted longer on that basis alone.

Oh, and somebody needs to push Stefan’s head into the fry-o-lator.

Me too, Ariane’s had a few hits but also some big fails and her hits may have been due to luck or her teammates. I think her winning dish in the Today show challenge was more due to luck since the others had picked things that were a little too complicated and didn’t appeal to all the judges. And let’s face it, her win for her lamb in the Bridal Shower challenge was due to her team. The concept was someone else’s and she was floundering on getting the lamb done on time. I don’t really think Ariane was good enough for the top three, if she made it it would have been because some better cooks bombed. She certainly wasn’t good enough to win.

That said I thought Hosea was getting the loser edit or that Leah would go. I think the producers may have had a hand in who went home.

Here’s why I think Ariane got kicked and Hosea and Leah got another week. They want to play up this little drama between those two and at the end one of them will probably be the one going home.

I can’t believe I forgot to mention Fabio. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t really done anything memorable in the last two episodes that I can remember anyway. I think he still has the potential to be in the top three though.

One more thing about Jeff. Pork tends to dry out easily if you’re not careful so it probably isn’t a good idea to cut off all the fat. Even though none of the judges mentioned it being too dry they did comment on the lack of flavor which the lack of fat probably contributed to.

Wile E If you have read any of Colicchio’s blogs on the subject of the producers having a say in the final decision you would have doubts that the producers would even broach the subject with him. The man goes absolutely ballistic when someone questions the integrity of him or the other judges. He has stated that if the producers ever do attempt to influence a decision, it will be time for him to leave the show.

He has also said that he doesn’t care how the show is edited to add drama as long as he has final say on the results.

It was an odd episode to me. I thought a few of them seemed off their game. Jamie, Radika, and Fabio all seemed like they were almost bored from the quickfire to the elimination challenge.

I was pretty ticked that Adriana was the one to leave, not that I’m crazy about her, but Leah should have gone. First, she always seems dirty to me so I wouldn’t eat a thing she cooked. Secondly, she didn’t step up and admit that she tied the lamb and did very little besides that. While Team Lamb was working I kept thinking"Why is Adriana doing so much and they’re doing so little?" It just seemed unfair.

Ick to the new judge.

I’ve read his blogs, but I don’t entirely believe that the producers don’t have any influence. They do sign their paychecks after all. If it’s a close decision between two people and the judges are having a hard time deciding and the producers say, we think so-and-so should go home, really who do you think will go home?

I haven’t watched the ep yet, but Colicchio last week was talking about how sad it was that some animal (Eugene’s fish, maybe?) gave his life for the dish, and how angry it made him. He didn’t seem to be just posturing for the camera, either.


In this case, if it is a virtual tie and the judges can’t decide who should go home then yeah, I could see some of the producers giving their opinion on who they would prefer to stay. Plus there is some sort of blurb at the end saying something like the producers may have input on some of the decisions made. It flies by way too fast to read but it’s something like that. So I’m not naive enough to think that Colicchio has absolute veto power.

I’m disappointed that Ariane got the axe this week, but I suspect that a big part of the reason was that she failed in her strong area. When she had her successes, it was because of her perfectly cooked meat dishes (the turkey with the Foo Fighter, the lamb chops, etc.), and not really her other culinary skills. When she got the lamb, I though she would be golden, because she would cook something great with the fresh lamb and wow the judges. When she screwed up, and they learned that she didn’t have butchering skills, her meat cooking – the one thing that was keeping her in the competition – was undercut, and she was the one to go. Still, I’d love to find her restaurant for some tasty meat dishes.

I was also quite disappointed that the teams didn’t have to kill their own food, though the television logistics of it might be challenging.

I’m a little apprehensive about the Hosea/Leah teaser they have running. Frankly, I think they’d make a cute as heck couple, and finding each other on the show thing would be sort of cool for such a “professional” competition show, though the girl/boyfriend back home on national TV thing is tough.

I think the biggest problem with this challenge is that they didn’t know they were going to the farm. They were all expecting to buy meat at Whole Foods, and when that didn’t happen, they just butchered the meat to get it like they would have bought it. I don’t mind the surprises, but I would’ve loved to see what kind of dishes they would have made if they had known what they were getting ahead of time.

I’m not too worried about the Hosea/Leah thing. Except for some very rare circumstances (the shaving Marcel scene), they spend very little time on stuff back at the house.

Don’t forget the incredibly awesome Junk Food Blind Fold Taste test with Dave and Miguel from season 1. It was a hoot! I’d love to watch more stuff from the house if it were as funny as that.

Well, except, the point of being a professional chef is that you don’t know what’s going to come out of the purveyor’s truck from day to day. Sometimes the shrimp is crisp and fresh; sometimes it looks like it sat on the dock in the summer sun for an extra couple of hours. You have to adapt accordingly. If you unexpectedly acquire a fantastic ingredient, you’re a fool if you bury it in the same heavy cream sauce you’d use to camoflage the average product.

And Blue Hill is pretty much the best of the best. You get something that’s that good, you throw out your plans. Otherwise you’re disrespecting the food, and the animal, and your diners. That was the point, or should have been.

The first thing I thought of when I saw they were getting lamb at Blue Hill was “tartare.” What better way to show the fresh, clean taste of the animal? You’d never do lamb tartare with something out of the meat case at Whole Foods, because you couldn’t count on the freshness, and you’d risk the meat developing an offensive odor. At Blue Hill, though, not a problem. The next thing I thought was “marrow,” where the fatty tissue highlights the health of the animal and its exceptional diet. Neither is complicated to prepare, involving only a couple of techniques, but they must be exceptionally executed, which requires confidence on the part of the chef. And both require the chef to place himself (or herself) at the service of the ingredient, rather than the other way around.

Repeating myself from before: This episode represents some real missed opportunities, all around.

I agree with that. The problem is they had the whole night to come up with a plan and then only a few minutes to completely reformulate when they hit the kitchen. And it’s even harder when there’s three people, who you might not know exactly what their skill level is, and you have to work together.
I bet if they had either gone to whole foods, or known about where they were going ahead of time, the lamb team would have won. Either Arainne would’ve made a great a dish, or Josea would have gone ahead and taken over the lamb, respectively.

The chicken team got a great advantage, because there wasn’t a huge change for them. They probably were gonna buy whole chickens anyway.

Could time also have been a factor for this one?
I’m asking the people who cook here, because I have no intuitive idea of how long it takes to season and cook lamb and pork on the bone. But could they have thought 3 hours was too little time to do something to the food and the more appropriate to the tasks techniques would just take too long?

Also, the new judge isn’t growing on me. Bourdain does a much more entertaining jerk.